Switzerland – The Cat’s Meow?

Cats in Switzerland - Swiss Cats

I am a self-confessed cat lady. The crazy part: It is a matter of opinion. I have had several cats in my life, Plato, Maxwell, Harley and Wellington, and I ever so adore these little felines!

Here is Wellington the Gray:

Cats in Switzerland - Swiss Cats

A Shocking Swiss Practice?

But when I first came to Switzerland, I was shocked to learn that the Swiss have been known to eat the domesticated and loved Felix and Fluffy. "No!", I gasped, imaging my sweet grey cat served as a grotesque Swiss version of Beef Wellington with carrots and peas on the side.

Now, I understand there are countries where food scarcity demands that cats and dogs are consumed as a matter of survival. And there are also those that eat them as an integral part of their culture (such as guinea pigs in South America). But Switzerland?!

As a non-Swiss vegetarian, I may have unwittingly skimmed past regional delicacies like "Katzengeschnetzeltes mit Spätzli"... However, a survey amongst my Swiss friends has shown that the disapproval of cat eating is high. This was a big relief to me and my "don't eat your pets" upbringing in Canada and New Zealand.

Calming my sensibilities further, I have witnessed (and assisted) my elderly Swiss neighbor feed the neighborhood cats and rescue those in distress over the past few years. With a Swiss feline heroine living in my building, I concluded that the practice of eating cats was surely a legend of the urban kind.

Felines Gone Missing

That was until the day she told me that cats in the neighborhood were going missing - and quite possibly were being eaten!

READ
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To legitimate the story, the neighbor told me that she was taking the distressed cat she had just found in the clearing beside our apartment to an animal shelter further from our home just to increase its chances of preservation. I know this might sound like she is a few cats short of a litter, but I can firmly attest that she is a model citizen of high mental competence.

Cats in Switzerland - Swiss Cats

Upon further investigation, I found that attempts to ban the practice of eating cats (and dogs) have failed in Switzerland with authorities leaving the non-cruel killing and consumption of our domestic friends up to personal taste.

In the Alps, as in many places in the world, meat is meat whether it comes from cow, pig, rabbit or chicken. However, I am pleased that the practice has high social disapproval and you will not find domesticated pets on the supermarket shelf!

I am further encouraged by the elaborate catwalks that lead to the dizzy heights of apartment windows. This is more evidence that the Swiss are as smitten with their kittens as I am!

What is your take? Have you eaten cat or dog in Switzerland?

Cats in Switzerland - Swiss Cats
Cats in Switzerland - Swiss Cats

Danielle Parla

Danielle is a Basel based yoga teacher and published author. She is passionate about sharing ways to wellness through yoga, lifestyle writing, wellness coaching, and Reiki healing.

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7 replies
  1. Marie-France Robert
    Marie-France Robert says:

    No way! Eating cats? I’m sure it must be true in area of deep, deep Switzerland, or remote mountain areas, and possibly farmers or very poor and uneducated country folk, but certainly, I cannot imagine that anyone nowadays would eat cats for pleasure or out of necessity. But who really knows?… Do you have more details as to what population or ethnicity in Switzerland eat cats, and where this happens? Interesting subject! Ugh!

    Reply
    • Danielle Satya Parla
      Danielle Satya Parla says:

      Hi Marie, Thanks for your comment. You are likely correct that cat is not a regular dinner for the Swiss, however it is not a foreign concept (as my educated, elderly city dwelling neighbour and other Swiss friends attest). I agree that the friendly feline is a most unpalatable dish, however in India, many would say the same for the (holy) cow, which is commonly eaten throughout the world. It’s a matter of perception. I suggest doing a search and you will see references to this bizarre little truth (eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_meat). D

      Reply
  2. Roberto Lopes de França
    Roberto Lopes de França says:

    It happens in the the deep region of St. Gallen or so I have been told. It certainly came from old times when the country was not rich as it is now, and it’s still being practiced by very few individuals, mabe farmers not so connected to modern society.
    But anyway, an animal is an animal, pets or not right?

    Reply
  3. Fritz Schlapbach
    Fritz Schlapbach says:

    As a Swiss guy: I would never ever eat a cat or a dog nor do I know any other swiss people who would do this. ;-) No way! Perhaps this are old stories back from World War II when food was rare?

    Reply
  4. Elisa
    Elisa says:

    This post makes it sound like it is a common occurrence, but after 15 years in Switzerland, I have never, EVER heard of this. Pretty sure it is very, very limited, and not nearly as common as you make it sound. When cats go missing, it is far more likely that they have been run over, which is just as unfortunate but I guess it wouldn’t make as sensationalist a post, now, would it?

    Reply
  5. Aleksandra Duda
    Aleksandra Duda says:

    How can you promote such a misinformation?

    Those are not “cat meals”. As far as my sources are not misleading, it’s historical name of a rabbit!!!

    Before you call yourself a specialist on subject please dig dipper… Shall I also assume you are same yoga teacher as “cats in switzerland specialist”?

    Reply

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